With a heavy heart we are reporting that Frankie Knuckles, better known as the Godfather of House, died yesterday. The news was reported by his longtime business partner, Frederick Dunson. In an e-mail Dunson said that Knuckles “died unexpectedly this afternoon at home.” More details are expected to follow shortly.
The legendary Bronx, NY-born DJ/producer/remixer, whose career started in the ’70s in New York while he was a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology and blossomed in Chicago at clubs such as the Warehouse and later the Power Plant, was 59.
Knuckles’ list of classics includes “Baby Wants to Ride” with Jamie Principle, “Tears” with Satoshi Tomiie and “Your Love.” His lengthy discography included remixing Michael Jackson, Lisa Stansfield, Whitney Houston and countless others. As a DJ, he toured the years for decades and was known for his deep, soulful style.
Out of all of his career accomplishments, Knuckles, who won the first Grammy for a remix in 1997, was also one of the nicest men in dance music. I first met Knuckles in the ’90s, when I interviewed him on a warm spring day at his apartment in New York’s East Village. This was back when DJ’s didn’t have publicists and connecting and getting to know them was a much different thing. As his cat came in and out of his living room neatly stacked with organized shelves of vinyl, Knuckles walked me through his history. Not only was he talented, but he was funny, engaging and grateful for his success. Whenever I’d see Knuckles, he’d always stop, say hello and give me a hug. The last time I saw him was at Electric Zoo in New York back in 2009. When he saw me he gave me a big, sweaty hug and put his hand on my bald head. He smiled brightly. That’s how I’ll always remember this kind man.
Here’s out the interview we conducted at Electric Zoo in September 2009. I held the camera and David Abravanel asked the questions.
Rest in peace, Godfather.